Friday of Holy Week - Jesus Thirsts

Jesus Thirsts on Cross.jpg

"Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, 'I am thirsty.' A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. - John 19:28-29

It was Holy Week, and like usual, I had been asked to participate in a community-wide Good Friday service based on the seven last words of Jesus from the cross. This service was done as a Tenebrae service, which meant as the seven last words of Christ were read from scripture, a candle was extinguished after each reading, until we were left with only the light of the Christ Candle. During this worship service, I had been assigned the words “I am thirsty.” I had read and even spoken these words countless times before, but I had never thought much about these words before, until that week.

You see, that week a parishioner was in hospice care and was nearing death. I stopped in to see her. During that time she asked me for a drink of water. She simply said, “I am thirsty.” So, I took the pink water pitcher and poured her a drink of water, fumbling with the straw, in order for her to drink deeply.

As I watched her drink, I could not help but think of Jesus’ words while on the cross, “I thirst.” Just like this parishioner, who was expressing her need for a drink, dry and parched, Jesus too was showing his humanity, while on the cross, also parched and dry and thirsty, he too was needing a drink.

We know that in John’s gospel, chapter 17, verse 13, Jesus referred to himself as the Living Water. John's mention of Jesus' thirst on the cross is meant to be another glimpse into the tragedy and the sorrow of the Crucifixion. It is another way of pointing to the fact that in Jesus' death, the source of living water for all of humankind was drying up, like a well that has run dry.

The Gospel of John tells us that a Roman soldier offered Jesus a drink from a sponge as He spoke of His thirst. The sponge was filled with wine vinegar. It was placed on a branch of hyssop, in order to be raised to Him. The wine vinegar would have been sour and cheap. In this reference, the Gospel writer, John, may have been pointing back to David’s prophetic words in Psalm 69:21, as the psalmist noted that His enemies gave him "vinegar to drink."

But also take notice of the hyssop branch…for, on the first Passover, the Israelites were instructed to dip a hyssop branch in the blood of the sacrificed lamb and then to use the hyssop to sprinkle the blood over their doorposts so that the angel of death would "pass over" their homes. It seems likely that John, in his account of the Crucifixion, was using the hyssop branch to point out the significance of Jesus' life and death…that is, by His blood, Jesus was saving from eternal death, those who trust in Him; and He was cleansing them from sin.

Why did the throat of heaven grow raw?

So we would know that he understands; so all who struggle would know that He too struggled; so that all who cannot trust humanity, can hear his invitation; “You can trust me.”

Why did Jesus proclaim his thirst from the cross?

To help us to see and hear clearly, that in His humanity He struggled for us, and in His divinity, He died for us.

Jesus’ confession of thirst is a signal for all who seek it, that He truly is the Christ, the Messiah, the Savior of the World!...who says…’You can trust me!’

Jesus’ message from the cross, through the wine-soak sponge is I AM Jesus…I AM Lord…I AM Messiah…I AM, and ”you can trust ME!”

Please pray with me...

Lord, I remember today that You, Who are the source of living water, suffered thirst upon the cross. May I ever drink of Your living water. Thank You for saving me from death. Thank You for cleansing me from sin. Amen.
Apr 19 2019